Albert Fert

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Albert Fert
Born (1938-03-07) 7 March 1938 (age 83)
Nationality French
Alma mater École normale supérieure
University of Paris
Known for Giant magnetoresistive effect, spintronics, skyrmions
Awards CNRS Gold medal (2003)
Wolf Prize in Physics (2006)
Japan Prize (2007)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2007)
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Université Paris-Saclay, Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales, Michigan State University [1]
Doctoral advisor I. A. Campbell

Albert Fert (French:  [albɛʁ fɛʁ] ; born 7 March 1938, Carcassonne, France) is a French physicist and one of the discoverers of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disks. Currently, he is an emeritus professor at Paris-Saclay University in Orsay, scientific director of a joint laboratory (Unité mixte de recherche) between the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (National Scientific Research Centre) and Thales Group, and adjunct professor at Michigan State University. He was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics together with Peter Grünberg. [2]



Fert graduated in 1962 from the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. [3] There he followed the courses of great physicists like Alfred Kastler or Jacques Friedel, and was passionate about photography and cinema (he was a big admirer of the work of Ingmar Bergman). [4]

After graduating from the École Normale Supérieure, he attended the University of Grenoble and in 1963 received his Ph.D. (doctorat de troisième cycle) from the University of Paris with a thesis prepared in the fundamental electronic Orsay Faculty of Sciences and in the physical spectrometry laboratory of the University of Grenoble Faculty of Sciences.

After his return from military service in 1965, he was assistant professor at the Orsay Faculty of Sciences of the University of Paris XI (Université Paris-Sud), [5] and prepared under the direction of Ian Campbell within the Laboratory of Solid Physics of the faculty for a doctorate Sc.D. (doctorat des sciences) in Physical Sciences devoted to the properties of electrical transport in nickel and iron, which he completed in 1970, [3] and was made a professor there in 1976.

He worked as research director for the university's condensed-matter physics laboratory (1970–1995) prior to heading to Unité Mixte de Physique, a laboratory jointly run by the Université Paris-Sud and the technology company Thales.

In 1988, Albert Fert at Orsay in France and Peter Gruenberg in Jülich in Germany, simultaneously and independently, discovered the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) of the magnetic multilayers. [6] [7] This discovery is recognized as the birth of spintronics, [8] [9] a research field which is often described as a new type of electronics exploiting not only the electric charge of the electrons but also their magnetism (their spin). Spintronics has already important applications. One knows that the introduction of GMR read heads in hard disks has led to a considerable increase of their capacity of information storage. [9] Other spintronic properties are exploited in the M-RAM [9] [10] that are expected to impact soon the technology of the computers and phones. In 2007, together with Prof. Grünberg, the received the renown Japan Award (300.000 Euro) for their discovery of GMR. The same year, they received the Nobel prize in Physics.

In October 2006, Professor Fert received the honorary doctorate from the Department of Physics of the University of Kaiserslautern. [3]

Albert Fert had many contributions to the development of spintronics and, after his 2007 Nobel Prize, he is exploring the emerging direction of the exploitation of topological properties in spintronics. [11] His most recent works are on the topologically protected magnetic solitons called skyrmions [12] and on the conversion between charge and spin current by topological insulators. [13]

Honors and awards

Related Research Articles

Magnetoresistance is the tendency of a material to change the value of its electrical resistance in an externally-applied magnetic field. There are a variety of effects that can be called magnetoresistance. Some occur in bulk non-magnetic metals and semiconductors, such as geometrical magnetoresistance, Shubnikov–de Haas oscillations, or the common positive magnetoresistance in metals. Other effects occur in magnetic metals, such as negative magnetoresistance in ferromagnets or anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR). Finally, in multicomponent or multilayer systems, giant magnetoresistance (GMR), tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR), colossal magnetoresistance (CMR), and extraordinary magnetoresistance (EMR) can be observed.

Spintronics, also known as spin electronics, is the study of the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electronic charge, in solid-state devices. The field of spintronics concerns spin-charge coupling in metallic systems; the analogous effects in insulators fall into the field of multiferroics.

Antiferromagnetism Regular pattern of magnetic moment ordering

In materials that exhibit antiferromagnetism, the magnetic moments of atoms or molecules, usually related to the spins of electrons, align in a regular pattern with neighboring spins pointing in opposite directions. This is, like ferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism, a manifestation of ordered magnetism.

Edward Mills Purcell Nobel prize winning American physicist

Edward Mills Purcell was an American physicist who shared the 1952 Nobel Prize for Physics for his independent discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance in liquids and in solids. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) has become widely used to study the molecular structure of pure materials and the composition of mixtures. Friends and colleagues knew him as Ed Purcell.

Tunnel magnetoresistance Magnetic effect in insulators between ferromagnets

Tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) is a magnetoresistive effect that occurs in a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ), which is a component consisting of two ferromagnets separated by a thin insulator. If the insulating layer is thin enough, electrons can tunnel from one ferromagnet into the other. Since this process is forbidden in classical physics, the tunnel magnetoresistance is a strictly quantum mechanical phenomenon.

Colossal magnetoresistance (CMR) is a property of some materials, mostly manganese-based perovskite oxides, that enables them to dramatically change their electrical resistance in the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetoresistance of conventional materials enables changes in resistance of up to 5%, but materials featuring CMR may demonstrate resistance changes by orders of magnitude.

Giant magnetoresistance

Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) is a quantum mechanical magnetoresistance effect observed in multilayers composed of alternating ferromagnetic and non-magnetic conductive layers. The 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg for the discovery of GMR.

The fractional quantum Hall effect (FQHE) is a physical phenomenon in which the Hall conductance of 2D electrons shows precisely quantised plateaus at fractional values of . It is a property of a collective state in which electrons bind magnetic flux lines to make new quasiparticles, and excitations have a fractional elementary charge and possibly also fractional statistics. The 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Robert Laughlin, Horst Störmer, and Daniel Tsui "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations" However, Laughlin's explanation was a phenomenological guess and only applies to fillings where is an odd integer. The microscopic origin of the FQHE is a major research topic in condensed matter physics.

In particle theory, the skyrmion is a topologically stable field configuration of a certain class of non-linear sigma models. It was originally proposed as a model of the nucleon by Tony Skyrme in 1961. As a topological soliton in the pion field, it has the remarkable property of being able to model, with reasonable accuracy, multiple low-energy properties of the nucleon, simply by fixing the nucleon radius. It has since found application in solid-state physics, as well as having ties to certain areas of string theory.

Peter Grünberg German physicist

Peter Andreas Grünberg was a German physicist, and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Albert Fert of giant magnetoresistance which brought about a breakthrough in gigabyte hard disk drives.

Gallium manganese arsenide, chemical formula (Ga,Mn)As is a magnetic semiconductor. It is based on the world's second most commonly used semiconductor, gallium arsenide,, and readily compatible with existing semiconductor technologies. Differently from other dilute magnetic semiconductors, such as the majority of those based on II-VI semiconductors, it is not paramagnetic but ferromagnetic, and hence exhibits hysteretic magnetization behavior. This memory effect is of importance for the creation of persistent devices. In (Ga,Mn)As, the manganese atoms provide a magnetic moment, and each also acts as an acceptor, making it a p-type material. The presence of carriers allows the material to be used for spin-polarized currents. In contrast, many other ferromagnetic magnetic semiconductors are strongly insulating and so do not possess free carriers. (Ga,Mn)As is therefore a candidate as a spintronic material.

Spinmechatronics is neologism referring to an emerging field of research concerned with the exploitation of spin-dependent phenomena and established spintronic methodologies and technologies in conjunction with electro-mechanical, magno-mechanical, acousto-mechanical and opto-mechanical systems. Most especially, spinmechatronics concerns the integration of micro- and nano- mechatronic systems with spin physics and spintronics.

Spin engineering describes the control and manipulation of quantum spin systems to develop devices and materials. This includes the use of the spin degrees of freedom as a probe for spin based phenomena. Because of the basic importance of quantum spin for physical and chemical processes, spin engineering is relevant for a wide range of scientific and technological applications. Current examples range from Bose–Einstein condensation to spin-based data storage and reading in state-of-the-art hard disk drives, as well as from powerful analytical tools like nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy to the development of magnetic molecules as qubits and magnetic nanoparticles. In addition, spin engineering exploits the functionality of spin to design materials with novel properties as well as to provide a better understanding and advanced applications of conventional material systems. Many chemical reactions are devised to create bulk materials or single molecules with well defined spin properties, such as a single-molecule magnet. The aim of this article is to provide an outline of fields of research and development where the focus is on the properties and applications of quantum spin.

Shoucheng Zhang

Shoucheng Zhang was a Chinese-American physicist who was the JG Jackson and CJ Wood professor of physics at Stanford University. He was a condensed matter theorist known for his work on topological insulators, the quantum Hall effect, the quantum spin Hall effect, spintronics, and high-temperature superconductivity. According to the National Academy of Science:

He discovered a new state of matter called topological insulator in which electrons can conduct along the edge without dissipation, enabling a new generation of electronic devices with much lower power consumption. For this ground breaking work he received numerous international awards, including the Buckley Prize, the Dirac Medal and Prize, the Europhysics Prize, the Physics Frontiers Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal.

The EPS CMD Europhysics Prize is awarded since 1975 by the Condensed Matter Division of the European Physical Society, in recognition of recent work by one or more individuals, for scientific excellence in the area of condensed matter physics. It is one of Europe’s most prestigious prizes in the field of condensed matter physics. Several laureates of the EPS CMD Europhysics Prize also received a Nobel Prize in Physics or Chemistry.

Hideo Ohno Japanese physicist

Hideo Ohno is a Japanese physicist. He is the 22nd president of Tohoku University, succeeding Susumu Satomi in April 2018.


Spinterface is a term coined to indicate an interface between a ferromagnet and an organic semiconductor. This is a widely investigated topic in molecular spintronics, since the role of interfaces plays a huge part in the functioning of a device. In particular, spinterfaces are widely studied in the scientific community because of their hybrid organic/inorganic composition. In fact, the hybridization between the metal and the organic material can be controlled by acting on the molecules, which are way more responsive to electrical and optical stimuli with respect to metals. This gives rise to the possibility of efficiently tuning the magnetic properties of the interface at the atomic scale.

Bipolar magnetic semiconductor

Bipolar magnetic semiconductors (BMSs) are a special class of magnetic semiconductors characterized by a unique electronic structure, where valence band maximum (VBM) and conduction band minimum (CBM) are fully spin polarized in the opposite spin direction. BMSs can be described by three energy gaps, the spin-flip gap Δ2 in valence band (VB), band gap Δ1 and spin-flip gap Δ3 in conduction band (CB). Up to now, bipolar magnetic semiconductors, together with half-metal and spin gapless semiconductor, have been viewed as three important classes of spintronic materials.

Jean-Philippe Ansermet Swiss physicist

Jean-Philippe Ansermet is a Swiss physicist and engineer and a Professor at EPFL. His research focuses on the fabrication and properties of nanostructured materials as well as spintronics.

The FLEUR code is an open-source scientific software package for the simulation of material properties of crystalline solids, thin films, and surfaces. It implements Kohn-Sham density functional theory (DFT) in terms of the all-electron full-potential linearized augmented-plane-wave method. With this, it is a realization of one of the most precise DFT methodologies. The code has the common features of a modern DFT simulation package. In the past, major applications have been in the field of magnetism, spintronics, quantum materials, e.g. in ultrathin films, complex magnetism like in spin spirals or magnetic Skyrmion lattices, and in spin-orbit related physics, e.g. in graphene and topological insulators.


  2. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2007".
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Prof. Albert Fert | GSE Mainz". Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  4. "Albert Fert, un Nobel amoureux de Bergman". LEFIGARO (in French). Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  5. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2007 – Albert Fert – Facts". Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  6. Baibich, M. N.; Broto, J. M.; Fert, A.; Van Dau, F. Nguyen; Petroff, F.; Etienne, P.; Creuzet, G.; Friederich, A.; Chazelas, J. (21 November 1988). "Giant Magnetoresistance of (001)Fe/(001)Cr Magnetic Superlattices" (PDF). Physical Review Letters. 61 (21): 2472–2475. Bibcode:1988PhRvL..61.2472B. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.61.2472 . PMID   10039127.
  7. Binasch, G.; Grünberg, P.; Saurenbach, F.; Zinn, W. (1 March 1989). "Enhanced magnetoresistance in layered magnetic structures with antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange". Physical Review B. 39 (7): 4828–4830. Bibcode:1989PhRvB..39.4828B. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.39.4828 . PMID   9948867.
  8. Handbook of spin transport and magnetism. Tsymbal, E. Y. (Evgeny Y.), Zutic, Igor. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. 2012. ISBN   9781439803776. OCLC   756724063.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. 1 2 3 Chappert, Claude; Fert, Albert; Dau, Frédéric Nguyen Van (2007). "The emergence of spin electronics in data storage". Nature Materials. 6 (11): 813–823. Bibcode:2007NatMa...6..813C. doi:10.1038/nmat2024. ISSN   1476-4660. PMID   17972936.
  10. Åkerman, Johan (22 April 2005). "Toward a Universal Memory". Science. 308 (5721): 508–510. doi:10.1126/science.1110549. ISSN   0036-8075. PMID   15845842. S2CID   60577959.
  11. Soumyanarayanan, Anjan; Reyren, Nicolas; Fert, Albert; Panagopoulos, Christos (23 November 2016). "Emergent phenomena induced by spin–orbit coupling at surfaces and interfaces". Nature. 539 (7630): 509–517. arXiv: 1611.09521 . Bibcode:2016arXiv161109521S. doi:10.1038/nature19820. ISSN   1476-4687. PMID   27882972. S2CID   4452338.
  12. Fert, Albert; Reyren, Nicolas; Cros, Vincent (2017). "Magnetic skyrmions: advances in physics and potential applications". Nature Reviews Materials. 2 (7): 17031. arXiv: 1712.07236 . Bibcode:2017NatRM...217031F. doi:10.1038/natrevmats.2017.31. ISSN   2058-8437.
  13. Rojas-Sánchez, J.-C.; Oyarzún, S.; Fu, Y.; Marty, A.; Vergnaud, C.; Gambarelli, S.; Vila, L.; Jamet, M.; Ohtsubo, Y. (1 March 2016). "Spin to Charge Conversion at Room Temperature by Spin Pumping into a New Type of Topological Insulator: $\ensuremath{\alpha}$-Sn Films". Physical Review Letters. 116 (9): 096602. arXiv: 1509.02973 . Bibcode:2016PhRvL.116i6602R. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.096602. PMID   26991190.